Monthly Archives: August 2015

What a Difference a Day Makes


Night and day? Well, while the difference is…nope, both taken in the full bloom of day. Top one is Friday and bottom one is Saturday. Yep, we were all breathing in that stuff at Worldcon!

Saturday, August 22

Ahhhhh, go ahead, breathe!  It’s about time.  Holding my breath for all of Friday was getting old. Saturday was a much more enjoyable day.  I spent the morning moderating a writers workshop with the pros, William Campbell Powell, Devon Monk, and Kay Kenyon.  I’ve been moderating for a good many years and I have to say, the last few workshops I’ve moderated have been filled with really good manuscipts and this was no exception.  The pros really delivered, a far better experience than moderating my last Worldcon.  They all really impressed me with how engaged, pertinent, and cogent their critiques were.

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By the time I got out of there, it was well past lunch time.  None of my usual cronies were available for lunch so I thought I’d go on the cheap and duck across the street to Chili’s, taking advantage of the fact that I could breathe outside.  Unfortunately, others must have had the same idea, for the wait was about a half hour.  So I decided to head back to the expensive, but very good, hotel restaurant.  On the way, who should I pass but ElizaBeth Gilligan, DAW author and friend from a writer’s group a long time ago.  In tow, she has two women.  Beth gives me a big smile as we pass and says, “Hi, Jennifer!  This is Sheila, my editor. We’re just going to lunch.”

Be still my heart!  Sheila Gilbert!  I have wanted to submit to her and meet her for years.  So I shove out my hand and say, “Nice to meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you from Beth.”  And with that, I kept my cool…and let the DAW editor off the hook.  I didn’t tackle her or pitch her or give her my business card…And I SO wanted to!  But maybe someday in a cover letter I’ll say, oh yes, we’ve met before.

So I walked off on cloud nine into the Grand Hotel restaurant. It was empty save for two people at a little table.  Whole restaurant to chose from and the waitress sits me right next to the only other two in there.  Practically on top of them.  Grumble grumble grumble…oh, hey, I know the name on that badge…

HOLY CON ANGEL!  That’s Tony Daniel…Baen Editor.  And he’s sitting with a woman who is obviously a big agent and been in the industry a long time.  Gawds above, I wish I’d gotten her name!  I sat there and listened to them while they talked shop.  I’m not going to reveal what they said, cause, well, I was skating on thin moral ice eavesdropping already, but I will share the one topic that really got my attention. They talked about editors and the unrealistic expectations people have of them.  This is a subject I can relate to.

I so wanted to speak up and join their conversation but that same annoying voice in me that kept me from jumping poor Sheila stomped down this impulse, too.  I decided when I left I would say one thing.  It took my entire meal to get the courage up to speak, but when I got up, I shared my own story of editors being unappreciated.

When I was in educational publishing with Addison Wesley/Simon & Schuster, I made half what my husband made.  (NOTE: if you want to get rich, publishing is likely not a best first choice.) Still, I got endless complaints about how expensive the text books were.  Every time I said I worked in textbooks, that’s the complaint folks would make.  I just felt like saying, “Oh yeah?  Tell you what. I’ll exchange my paycheck for yours any day of the week!”

The agent was gracious and seemed genuinely engaged and exchanged a few sentences with me.  I finished up by going to see Tony Daniel read from his upcoming fantasy series.  I’ll be looking for it if only to relive my day of meeting big agents and editors!

Welcome to Smokane

Friday, August 21

My roomie came into our hotel room today as I was looking out the window. “How are things?” he asked.



Yeah…the sun really was that color and it’s still only early evening!

Outside, I couldn’t see the nearby rim of hills and mountains for the yellow-grey smoke that shrouded the city.  The sun was a red ball…Con goers take warning!  Major fires raged about fifty miles away and a lesser one burned only ten to twenty miles away.  Breathing was the chore of the day.  Every time I asked directions of the staff, they said the shortest way is out those doors—

I’d shake my head vigerously, “Then tell me the longer way ‘cause  I’m not going outside!”  By the end of the day, my eyes stung, my nose ran, my lungs burned, and as for my throat…

I was thirsty. Thirsty was and understatement. My tongue felt thick behind the wet cloth jammed up against my mouth and I swallowed hard. (Opening of the only book I bought this week here…perhaps persuaded by circumstance?)

Yeah, it was that bad.

But the day wasn’t a total loss.  Jax from the writer’s group and I went to vote for upcoming Worldcons.  I voted for Montreal in 2017 so we could all go up to Jason’s neck of the woods.  Then we went to the 2018 tables and Jax donated to the New Orleans effort since that’s where she calls home.  I had my money out to donate when I asked who the competition was…San Jose!  ACK!  Sorry, New Orleans, but San Jose is the next city over from me!

Later, I was excited to dine with Bryan Buhl and his l charming wife Melisa, who was a saint to listen to three writers jabber on about their stories for most of dinner.

After that, we rushed over to see the masquerade show.  The two women I drove up with were in it.  Shael was one bad-ass knit Klingon throwing around a knit bat’leth. I certainly don’t want to cross her now!  And Denise made a remarkable Diana Prince…oh wait!  She gives a twirl and turns into Wonder Woman!  Denise’s costume was a tear-away uniform over a WW costume.  She sure pulled it off—both literally and figuratively!

Quote of the day: There is no smoking inside the auditorium. If you must smoke, go outside and breathe deeply.


A Little Worldcon, a Little Spokane

Thursday, August 20


A little Worldcon…

A morning at Worldcon moderating the panel:

Stories from Around the Water Cooler: Tales Editors and Writers Tell

Cynthia Felice, Lesli Robyn, Zaza Koshkadze, and Patty Briggs joined me in telling tales from their very interesting careers as writers, including an honest to goodness tale of book burning. Quite the popular event; there was standing room only.

And an afternoon of geocaching with a woman I met outside of the critique panel on Wednesday.  Beautiful river front park and a Flexible Flyer red wagon bigger then my living room!

I dropped in on the Northwest Writer’s Association to see our books laid out. Woot!  I also wanted to support them, so I bought a book: Amaskan’s Blood.  First few lines were…

She was thirsty. Thirsty was and understatement. Her tongue felt thick beneath the sour cloth jammed in her mouth and Iliana swallowed hard.

A prophetic opening…

(Tune in tomorrow…same bat time, same bat channel)


A little Spokane…

Worldcon Starts!


Wednesday, August 19

While we are checking into the Grand Hotel, both other members of our writer’s group appear.  Leasspell is together for the first time…My, but Jason is tall! (or I’m short…one of the two). Was so glad to meet him face to face.

But down to business. Dropped off five books from Tickety Boo Press in the dearlers room to be sold by the Northwest Writer’s Association.  They were great to let TBP sell at their table.  Thank you Jeffery Cook for putting that together!

After that, had to get to my first panel: To Include or not to Include: Evaluating Writing Critiques

This panel recommended that you version control your work…and not version control it.

That when forming a writer’s group, you get a pro to run it…and that you not get a pro to run it.

That you listen to critiques…and that you not listen to them.

This was a good panel with lively discussions.  In a nutshell, it said that you are your own best judge of what you should listen to. So you need to know yourself.  Are you prone to rejecting authority? Are you likely to take advice no matter what?  In the past, what was your first response to a critique you knew was right.  I told how I’ve spent years training my husband to be a proper critique.  When I know he’s not right, I can just think, yeah yeah, move along.  But when he’s right…I get mad at him.  Damn it! Why won’t he just let me sweep that under the carpet?  Grumble, Grumble.

A good policy is to read the critique and then put it away for a week.  Often times it’s not as bad as you remember.  Now you are likely in a better place to address it.

If one person makes a comment about something, think hard about changing it. If several people make the same comment, take a closer look.  Even if each person says something different is wrong, if they say it at the same place, likely something is wrong there, the readers just couldn’t put their collective thumb on it.

Worldcon or Bust

Tuesday, August 18

Three of us pile into the car for a long day of driving.  Bye Bye Klamath Falls.  Oh! Look, Bend is on the way!  Dechuets Brewery for lunch!  Denise has to continue her tradition of getting the paddle of beer samplers…Six glasses, four ounces each!


Perhaps the empty paddle of beer explains some of the lunch banter…

Memorable lunch quotes after the imbibing of beer!

Said of the Central Oregon Saison beer: It’s as if chai tea was a beer!

Queen Elizabeth didn’t have a chest either!  (And no, context wouldn’t help…this pretty much just came out of the blue…after 20 ounces of beer)

The Bat’leth goes on top.  Well, duh, doesn’t it always?